Geneva to Genova – written by Liz 30.09.08
So, we’re in Deiva Maria, about 50 miles east of Genoa (Genova) on the Italian Riviera and what is it doing? Why, raining, of course.
We arrived last night – Sunday – to a beautiful sunset over the sea, as seen from our pitch, only to be met with rain this morning. At 14.05 (Italian time) it’s still pouring and isn’t as warm as it should be. Still I can look out over the sea and imagine it blue and beautiful, rather than grey and miserable.
Patrick has taken the train to Genova (I think)
and I have elected to stay here and recover from our long journey south. We left Troyes on Sunday morning and scampered south in brilliant sunshine to the little village of Neydens, just south of Geneva, but still in France. Although so close to Switzerland, we were put off by the thought of the cost of the compulsory vignette for major roads (£40+) and the still chilly nights and so decided to brave the Mont Blanc tunnel and head for the Med.
It was a truly awe-inspiring journey – one of the best I have ever taken – through (literally) the Alps, across/through the Appennines and along the A12 autostrada to the sea. It was worth every penny of the 80E toll charges.
Continued by Patrick
The noise level on the trip was higher than usual. Much of the journey was through tunnels and over bridges between mountains. Patrick doesn’t like heights so every exit from a tunnel caused anxious squeaks and Liz doesn’t like being trapped underground so the end of every bridge brought a sigh of relief from Patrick and anxious squeaks from Liz…
This aversion to the life of a rabbit became very apparent when we decided to take an impromptu trip from Deiva Marina to Sestri Levante
along the old coast road. This is almost entirely tunnels but very narrow single lane affairs. The system is that you arrive at the first tunnel and there is a set of lights and a board telling you what times the lights will go green. In effect, you are being formed into convoys. Some of the tunnels seem endless but are broken up with little holes in the cliff or a few yards of open road. Liz found that she needed to keep her eyes shut or feel sick.
Coming back, we were the first in the fifteen minute convoy. As the lights went green, our buggy decided not to start! At this point we realized that we had come out without phones or money. Fortunately, we realized it was a stuck starter motor and it has a pull start as well. We made it for the following convoy.
Deiva Marina had some merits…
But we found the campsites in the area very cramped. Seems Italians think a space to park is all you need. We also found that we were finding the language harder to learn than we expected. The thought of committing to Italian for the next 6 months frightened us quite a lot – especially as our initial experience was that the locals didn’t have much patience with people who didn’t speak the lingo.
We made the decision to run for the French Riviera and eventually to Spain. Liz finds it very difficult when she can’t understand the conversations she overhears!
So three nights later, we headed for France and Villeneuve Lubet Plage, between Nice and Antibes.
Genova to Nice
Again, a wonderful drive along the old coast road rather than taking the very much quicker toll road. It twists and turns. It goes up and down at alarming angles. But every turn produces wonderful views of the blue Med, often hundreds of feet below but then you drop down to sea level for the villages along the coast.
Wonderful places to stop and rest over a cuppa and some bread & cheese.
At one point, we saw a somewhat elderly looking plane banking round the headland and apparently headed for the cliffs! On closer inspection, it proved to be a seaplane. It came in to land (or is that sea) just below us, bounced a good few times and took off again. Not sure what that was all about. Maybe just to rough when it came to it…
This is not a road to be hurrying. Each town is a twenty minute crawl through narrow streets
– hard to remember that we are on an A-road (well actually the SS1). Ventimiglia was an interesting place to pass through. It looks like it is, a frontier town almost entirely devoted to selling French tourists their cheap booze and tobacco (and fuel, of course) together with amazing arrays of tatty souvenirs.
We skirted Monaco – actually, it felt more like flying over it – then dropped down to the very much more sophisticated plain at Nice.
The campsite we are on is very attractively set out with hedged pitches and clean, well appointed facilities, including an indoor swimming pool and small shop/café that sells bread and croissants in the morning.
They have a number of “chalets” or wooden huts for rent. We took one of these for Julyan & Georgia to come for the weekend as we wanted to see them and Paris was proving very wet and cold.
They came down on the overnight sleeper on Thursday night, arriving at Antibes at 7am Friday morning. Fortunately, they had the sense to find a café for breakfast before ringing us at a more reasonable hour.
Patrick had just bought his long promised Nikon D90 digital SLR in Nice complete with three lenses. A 50mm f1.8, an 18-200 zoom with vibration removal and a Sigma 4.5mm (yes, really) fisheye. This proved a great success with both Georgia and Julyan.
swimming and trips to Nice and Antibes
took up most of the time. Julyan, of course needed to try driving the buggy on the beach! He had to share it with a wildcamp…
They went back on Sunday but this time on the TGV in daylight. The round trip cost them just 100E.
We are currently waiting for Patrick’s new glasses to be made. £350 in UK two years ago – £650 here! But they really are essential – particularly if he is driving… Liz has driven the buggy on the road after a trial run on the beach but is still proving adept at dreaming up excuses for not doing so.
On Tuesday, Liz spent a very happy day on her own in Antibes; visiting the Picasso Museum
(his house, really) and found the building more attractive than the paintings.
She also had a happy snurge through the English Bookshop. We both remember Antibes from a sailing visit in 1994 and have found it just as good now, very cramped and compact but the old town is charming with a wonderful market.
Patrick has resisted blowing the budget on glacé fruits – so far!
Amazingly, we have finally got our post from Claire so we have things like driving licences, bank cards and health cards at last. Once the specs are ready, probably the end of the week, we will move on to Mandelieu, the industrial end of Cannes where there is a motorhome stockists. The idea is to pick up things like a campsite discount card (ACSI) and a shower bag but Liz may feel the need to inspect other vans and…